‘Once you have driven 12 cylinders, you are spoiled for life’ RPK
Testarossa is Italian for ‘redhead’, which in turn is also a very desirable Ferrari. During the late 1950’s into the early 1960’s Ferrari painted the camshaft covers red on its World Sportscar Championship racing model and generated this double entendre with regards to a red-headed woman and the voluptuous Pininfarina bodied Ferrari – Testarossa.
However, for the 1984 Paris Auto Show, Ferrari had resurrected the Testarossa name, succeeding the flagship Ferrari Boxer model. The iconic body rivaled only by the Lamborghini Countach was the poster child of automotive connoisseurs. Like the outgoing Boxer, the Testarossa featured a flat 12 cylinder, mid-engine layout, but now featuring 4-valves per cylinder. Horsepower was around 390 (pending market emissions). The flat 12 cylinder layout gave a low center of gravity with a good 40%/60% (front/rear) weight distribution for ultimate performance. What more do you want?
With all the right specs, why is the market on used Testarossa’s – soft? Answer: for several reasons.
Let me explain, from its introduction in 1984 until 1996, nearly 10,000 units were built making it all too common for collectors. Although from 1991 – 1994 the model featured significant upgrades and was rebadged F512 TR, the image was the same. Likewise, from 1994 – 1996, featured more upgrades and rebadged as the F512 M. Did I mention high service costs?
Part of the Testarossa’s character was the side mounted radiators mounted in the back. Like the Formula 1 racing cars of the day, this design aided aerodynamic efficiency and eliminated the need for plumbing them to the front of the car. An added benefit was minimal heat transfer into the driver’s cabin and more front luggage space. This was fine, but now the overall width was increased some 6” over the outgoing Boxer to a total of 78”. This also led to a design feature of 5 horizontal strakes starting at the door and leading back to the radiators. They served an aerodynamic function channeling the air into the radiators. The problem is that these strakes became ‘cliché’ as every custom shop made them available for common motorcars creating pseudo Testarossa’s.
In the process, the Testarossa was being further reduced to a social stereotype by appearing as a regular in the TV series Miami Vice. Now it is an official ‘yuppie’ status symbol instead of being the pinnacle of Grand Touring.
The saddest part is that most articles published, dwells on the image and size points. I don’t know if that has to do with the Technocracy, or mega-corporation rubber stamp journalism (insert conspiracy of choice here), but the Testarossa is in fact a very good automobile. My whole point is, don’t believe all the drama, look and decide for yourself as to what the Testarossa really is. You, the sovereign consumer are the beholder of beauty.
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to browse through my others and share as you wish. http://www.examiner.com/automotive-news-in-detroit/richard-kollins